HC Deb 26 May 1971 vol 818 cc535-7

Lords Amendment: No. 17, in page 31, leave out lines 18 and 19 and insert: to section 12 of the Rent (Scotland) Act 1971;

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

It will be for the convenience of the House to take with this Amendment, Lords Amendments Nos. 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

These Amendments are necessary because the Rent (Scotland) Act, 1971, a consolidating Measure, is now on the Statute Book. In fact, the Royal Assent was given to it on 12th May. Therefore, these Amendments repeat, in terms of the 1971 Act, provisions which were already contained in the Bill in terms of the older Scottish rent legislation. These Amendments are purely consequential to the consolidation Measure having received the Royal Assent. The Act does not come into force until three months after it is passed, which will be 12th August, 1971. Therefore, there will be a transitional period during which the old Statutes have to remain in force. The Amendments are put in such a way that we retain the references at the same time to the older legislation. The two things have, so to speak, to run in harness together if they are to be effective. Obviously, we must keep the Bill up to date to keep pace with other legislation which has taken place since it was first introduced.

Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)

I hope that the House will notice that these Amendments were made necessary because of the expedition of Scottish Members in dealing with Bills.

There will be no change in the effect of the Fire Precautions Bill, but these Amendments will be of considerable help to anyone who wants to study it. When I look at the original references and the part of the Schedule which applies to Scotland, it is the sorrow of my life that I was not a member of the Committee. It is such a jungle of jargon, with reference and cross-reference, that I defy anyone to read it and make any sense out of it.

I hope that the proviso is not taken for granted and that we shall just let things ride until August so that everything will come in tidily and people will refer to the 1971 Act.

The point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Merlyn Rees) concerning certain parts of the Bill is of the essence, and no one should appreciate that more than Scottish Members. I remember when we first started on this operation, when we were in Government, how the need was highlighted by certain fires in Scotland.

I thank the Under-Secretary for his lucid explanation. I am glad that he has a voice. I hope that he has not been cheating too much while I have been in Scotland. I look forward to seeing him again tomorrow.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman would not defy himself to understand the original Schedule: he uses the long night watches to great effect. I am grateful for his tributes for the speed at which Scottish legislation goes through the House. No one knows better than he how to speed it, even though at times Bills of three or four Clauses take three or four months. I bow to his experience in these matters. I hope that his tribute to expedition will be carried forward. During his absence on important business, there was expedition in certain Committees. If he would be prepared to absent himself more frequently, we should get more Scottish legislation on to the Statute Book.

But I agree that we want to see this on the Statute Book as quickly as possible. I pay tribute to the work of the right hon. Gentleman and his Government in preparation of the Bill. It is because we do not want to wait until the Rent Act comes into force on 12th August that we are running these two pieces in harness.

Question put and agreed to.

Subsequent Lords Amendments agreed to.